What if they gave a war and nobody stayed?
The current rift in the Democratic Party (not “Democrat” Party as Republicans have tried to re-brand their opponent) is pronounced and legitimate but because the basis for it is resentment over an old and growing older primary (the 2016 presidential primary ended about a year and a half ago now), this division is likely to evaporate as soon as the next Democratic presidential primary is in high gear. So, give it a final year or so.
At that point, the Hillary vs. Bernie race will be so obviously an old and pointless discussion, it will be eclipsed by the enthusiasm and relevance of the race that actually matters then.
Not to say that some on both sides won’t carry their stale 2016 resentments into the 2020 primary or that the division between establishment Dems and Progressive Dems won’t be on display, but the specific dynamics of Hillary vs. Bernie will become moot.
If the 2016 and 2017 elections prove anything, it’s that the power of the establishment in each party has waned and is becoming more and more irrelevant. Trump defeated the GOP establishment and Bernie’s surprising competitiveness against Hillary made a similar statement against the power of the Dem establishment.
Which party has a plurality of voters? It’s a trick question, more voters identify as Independent than belonging to either party. As of this month, Gallup shows that only 25% of voters identify as Republican, 30% as Democrats and a plurality, 42% identify as independent (so to the Democratic purists who attack indie candidates and voters who want to participate in their primaries and elections, do you want to win or not?). The parties don’t decide General Elections anymore, independent voters do.
The pointless Hillary-Bernie conflict may limp along until part way through the 2020 primary, with each side of the feud backing candidates as surrogates for Hillary and Bernie (or Bernie himself if he runs again as expected) but in the end, it will be the Democratic Party’s candidate against Trump and few sane Democrats will be so suicidal as to give aid and comfort to a Trump regime that has been destroying nearly everything that America and the Democratic Party stand for in the previous four years.
Both sides in this self-destructive, backwards-looking sideshow have legitimate gripes as well as unjustifiable hostilities.
The establishment Dems running the DNC were admittedly supporting Hillary from the outset and through the race. Superdelegates were lined up behind Hillary before the race even began, to put any other candidate at a massive disadvantage and the slashing of the amount of debates and scheduling the few that there were to occur during major sports events, weekends and holidays was intended to deny opponents the opportunity to raise their awareness and popularity among voters. The DNC’s Donna Brazile gave the Hillary campaign questions in advance for a CNN debate with Bernie and emails showed DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other DNC members discussing ways to undermine Bernie’s campaign.
Meanwhile, the puritanical extremism of some Bernie supporters during and after the primary, who vowed never to vote for Hillary if she won (which incidentally, was a far smaller percentage than Hillary voters who didn’t vote for Barack Obama in 2008 out of spite), deserves criticism and condemnation (who besides elitist and self-centered Susan Sarandon would argue today that not voting for Hillary and allowing Trump to be elected was a smart forward-looking move?). Some Bernie supporters, so blinded by their overzealous hostility against Hillary, became unwitting pawns and collaborators in spreading Russian-created propaganda on social media intended to damage Hillary. Some even turned on other Bernie supporters who tried to alert them that they were embracing and promoting Russian propaganda and piled on them because they dared to question attacking Hillary.
The Hillary supporters who have sunk their nails deep into denialism, intent in their endless obsession in hating Bernie and his supporters and blaming them for Hillary’s loss, are hopelessly trapped in a fiction they emotionally need. Without it, they would have to look at themselves as having been mistaken in their decision making about choosing the best candidate to beat Trump and have to admit that Hillary was a greatly flawed candidate.
The Bernie supporters who revel in rubbing it in that Hillary lost, slam her and her supporters for being ignorant and the enemy and brag about not having voted for her and instead having voted instead for Jill Stein are themselves ignorant and intolerant. Their self-righteousness about their being smarter and more principled as Progressives is antithetical to being genuinely Progressive (if one subscribes to a core Progressive principle of the equality of all people and inclusiveness). If these folks are so superior in their decision-making, why did some of them vote for Stein who was also buddying up with Vladamir Putin in Russia at the same table with him and Michael Flynn? A true Progressive votes for a Putin pal?
As I hope is evident, this victimhood on both sides is foolish and self-denigrating. Fighting over an old election instead of fighting together for the future, to defeat the actual existing threat we’re faced with today, is petty and a waste of time and energy.
Do folks on either side of the ongoing Hillary vs. Bernie feud think that one day the other side will just shake their heads and say, “You know, now that I think about it, you’re right and we’re wrong”? What do any of these folks think that they could gain in continuing to bang their heads against a wall and blame the other side for their headache? Not to mention continuing to alienate each other in future elections when all votes for Democratic candidates will be desperately needed?
There are those Hillary supporters who continue to attack Bernie and his supporters as not being Democrats and unwelcome in the party. Some declare that Bernie and his voters have no right to criticize the Democratic Party or be respected by it unless he and they join it.
This is beyond ridiculous. First, true Democrats believe in free speech and would fight even on behalf of their adversaries to be able to freely express themselves. Secondly, cutting off one’s nose to spite their face is part of the Republican platform, not the Democratic one. True Democrats embrace a big tent, they want voters from everywhere to feel welcome and wanted in the party because they’re smart enough to know that the more voters they welcome in, the more votes they’ll have on Election Day and the more they’ll win.
Real Democrats would be happy to have independent politicians who share their principles run in their elections because it is additive, it will attract more independent voters into their primaries who will become vested in the Democratic party and grow the party and its power. Then, whether the previously-Independent candidate or always-Democratic candidate win, the winner who will share nearly all the same positions with their Democratic opponents, makes the Democratic Party and its supporters the ultimate winners.
As for the Bernie supporters who have a zero sum view of Democrats, you’re either with us or against us, they are exhibiting the same conformist thinking as Trump supporters who operate the same way. Real Progressives don’t see things in black and white, they can see the various shades of gray and can respect that people who are just as Progressive and just as smart may have a different opinion on who is the best Democratic candidate. The additive sensibility applies here too, in order for the Democratic nominee to win (especially with Russian manipulation of our elections and FBI Directors corrupting the process), all oars need to be rowing together and in the same direction. The vote of a Hillary supporter is just as valuable as that of a Bernie supporter, there is no luxury here to be able to push away the supporters of another Democratic primary candidate if the point is to win the General Election as opposed to be a slave to one’s insecurities and flail against those whose difference of opinion makes one feel threatened.
Whether the candidate who wins the Democratic primary is who one supported or not, it is self-destructive and childish to want to take one’s ball and go home because their candidate lost. In the end, you are either looking for a candidate to pursue the policies you support or you are wrapped up in a personality cult mentality which is the antithesis of acting on reason and principle and elects creatures like Trump and possibly Roy Moore.
The next Democratic primary for president in 2020 will not be a Back to the Future replay, Hillary will not be running against Bernie. Whoever the candidate turns out to be, he or she will be the only hope for America to end the destructive rampage of the Trump regime.
Some self-destructive Dems may still be clutching onto their resentment and denial from four years ago when the 2020 election to unseat Trump comes around. Any that are doing so should be seen in the same light as kamikaze Trump supporters since they would be putting their petty emotions above the principles they claim to support.
However, it seems more likely that once the Democratic Party’s candidate for president wins the nomination and it becomes a contest between someone carrying Democratic principles against four more horrible years of Donald Trump’s increasingly destructive and dictatorial rule, the triviality of arguing whether Hillary or Bernie was the worst opponent four years ago will shrivel away into irrelevance, as it should.